|Founded||March 2, 2017|
|Dan Hart (President and CEO)|
|Services||Orbital rocket launch|
Number of employees
Virgin Orbit is a company within the Virgin Group which provides launch services for small satellites. On January 17, 2021, their LauncherOne successfully reached orbit, and successfully deployed 10 cubesats.
The company was formed in 2017 to develop the air-launched LauncherOne rocket, launched from Cosmic Girl; this tandem had previously been a project of Virgin Galactic. Based in Long Beach, California, Virgin Orbit has more than 300 employees led by president Dan Hart, a former vice president of government satellite systems at Boeing.
Virgin Orbit focuses on small satellite launch, which was one of three capabilities being focused on by Virgin Galactic. These capabilities are: human spaceflight operations, small satellite launch, and advanced aerospace design, manufacturing, and test.
On May 25, 2020, LauncherOne's first launch failed to reach orbit.
On January 17, 2021, LauncherOne became the first Virgin Orbit vehicle to reach orbit, successfully deploying 10 CubeSats into Low Earth Orbit for NASA on its final demonstration mission. LauncherOne was deployed from the left wing of a retrofitted Boeing 747, 10 kilometers above the Pacific Ocean. The rocket was dedicated to the memory of Eve Branson, mother of Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, who died from Covid-19 on the 8th of January 2021.
Cosmic Girl is the name of the modified Boeing 747 that Virgin Orbit uses to launch its rockets.
VOX Space is a subsidiary of Virgin Orbit that was created in the early 2020s. The company plans to supply launch services for the US military, sometimes referred to as the "national security launch market." The company intends to use the Virgin Orbit LauncherOne launch vehicle.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Virgin Orbit announced it was a partner in a new venture to build comparatively low-grade mechanical ventilators (breathing machines) — specifically "bridge ventilators" for partially recovered patients and patients not in intensive care — to address the critical global shortage of mechanical ventilators during the pandemic. To develop and produce them, Virgin Global — with the University of California Irvine and the University of Texas at Austin — formed the Bridge Ventilator Consortium. They had a prototype awaiting approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in March, and hoped to begin production in April.
Launch site in the UK
Launch site in Brazil
In October 2019, Virgin Orbit announced that Matthew Stannard was joining as a pilot on a three-year contract. Stannard had previously served in the Royal Air Force as a test and evaluation pilot notably on Typhoon jets. At that time Orbit was about to start testing its Cosmic Girl launch platform.
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- Virgin Orbit selects RAF pilot as it plans satellite launch program, Ed Adamczyk, SpaceDaily, 2019-10-04
- Media related to Virgin Orbit at Wikimedia Commons